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Cigarettes Can Kill You (In More Ways Than One)

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Being a broke-ass smoker in New York you probably know the codes to buying loosie cigarettes in your local bodegas, and you probably know a guy, or two, who deliver those eight-dollar boxes. Smoking, just as everything else in this city, is hell-a pricey, and loosies have become a thing, like in many other barrios around the world. Buying cigarettes out of state provides an affordable price that allows people to sell the entire box, individually, and make a very good profit fast. For many New Yorkers this is a reliable source of income.

In the light of the recent events in Staten Island, I pose the following question: Was being poor the reason why Eric Garner had to die? Eric Garner is said to have been out in the streets notoriously selling loosies to the neediest folks of Staten Island (the whitest and richest of all five boroughs). His preferred selling spot happened to be right around the corner of the HRA offices in the forgotten borough. On the day of his death, police men asked the man to stop selling loosies because it is not legal, and I ask: Is the selling of cigarettes illegal, because the tobacco companies or government aren’t making a profit from the sale? Did Garner die because he was bending the law, trying to make some money to help his family?

Regardless of the answer to these questions, the death of Eric Garner was a tangible, factual, and clearly wrong (with evidence) that a man was killed because he was poor. A broke-ass New Yorker died because he needed to be out there making some extra cash, he died because staying home was not an option for him that day. The truth is that employment opportunities, educational funds, healthy eating and housing are not guaranteed in many big cities these days. Most of the time, many of us will do whatever we can to buy a loosie, get a dollar or find a meal. I know I certainly have.

So today I ask: Why did a man have to die for being poor? Why does bringing stability to a home have to become a dangerous struggle for some people? Pricey health care services, poor living conditions, hunger and resorting to toxic means of reducing our pain are killing us on a daily basis. Today, we’re still mourning for Eric Garner, a man who lost his life at the hands of a police officer while seeking to provide for his people. May I plead that tomorrow we take interest in resolving the issues that are slowly killing many others at the hands of institutional abuse.

R.I.P. Eric Gardner.

Written from Staten Island on December, 2014.

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Jennifer Nilenie - The Destitute-Social Critic

Jennifer Nilenie - The Destitute-Social Critic

Writing for the heck of it since she was an eight-year-old, Jenny Nilenie now seeks social justice through her voice and any other medium she can access. She’s the creator of Jin-Editos; a self-published collection of books featuring essays, poetry and short stories intended for the working class and a few wealthy, nosy bodies. Puerto Rican born black-and-proud female, who’s residing in New York, and knows what it's like to be an immigrant in a city that is both harsh and exiting. She loves to poison train rider-ears with her poetry and is often rewarded by not getting beat up.